Michael Bowling, Ph.D.
Regional Justice Information Service
Matthew J. Hickman
Devon B. Adams
Bureau of Justice Statistics
The Brady Handgun Violence Preven-
tion Act (the Brady Act) mandates
criminal history background checks on
persons applying to purchase firearms
from federally licensed firearm dealers
(Federal Firearm Licensees or FFL’s).
This Bulletin reports the number of
applications for firearm transfers and
permits, rejections that resulted from
background checks, reasons for rejec-
tion, and rates of rejection for selected
States in 2001.
The permanent provisions of the Brady
Act became effective on November 30,
1998. The act established the National
Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS) and requires a back-
ground check by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) or a State point of
contact (POC) on persons applying to
receive firearms from a FFL.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
began the Firearm Inquiry Statistics
(FIST) program in 1995 to collect infor-
mation on background checks
conducted by State and local agencies.
The State and local data — when
combined with FBI NICS data —
provides national estimates of the total
$ From the inception of the Brady Act
on March 1, 1994, to December 31,
2001, nearly 38 million applications
for firearm transfers were subject to
background checks. About 840,000
applications were rejected.
$ Total applications for firearm trans-
fers or permits nationwide increased
3%, from 7.7 million in 2000 to 8.0
million in 2001.
$ State and local agencies conducted
background checks on about half of
the applications for firearms transfers
or permits in 2001, while the FBI was
responsible for the remainder.
$ In 2001, 151,000 (1.9%) of approxi-
mately 7,958,000 applications for
firearm transfers or permits were
rejected by the FBI or State and local
agencies. This national rejection rate
in 2001 remained similar to that in
$ The rejection rate for applications
checked by the FBI (1.5%) was lower
than the rate for checks by Sta